HERSHEY — Wayne Simpson tied the game with 2.8 seconds left, and Joe Whitney scored his first goal as a Bear in a thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the Rochester Americans on Sunday evening at Giant Center.
A first period dominated by the Chocolate and White saw them rewarded with a lead after 20 minutes. After a Travis Boyd apparent goal in the opening minute was washed out due to incidental contact, Hershey responded with a power play strike. Following a Brendan Guhle slashing minor at 10:43, the Bears struck pay-dirt. Whitney positioned himself at the center-point and sent a pass towards Riley Barber positioned at the bottom of the left face off circle. Barber blasted his team leading 17th goal of the season into the net, off a sprawling Rochester goaltender Linus Ullmark. The Bears possessed a 14-5 shots advantage after 20 minutes.
In the middle frame, the Americans found the equalizer on Vitek Vanecek. At 14:31, Seth Griffith cut towards the cage from an angle along the left wing and stuffed a short side shot past Vanecek.
After scoring on the game's first power play, the Chocolate and White fanned on their next four chances in the first 40 minutes, including a 5-on-3 chance.
With only 2:37 left, Eric Cornel gave Rochester their first lead of the night. On an offensive zone entry, Kevin Porter sent a head-man pass to a streaking Cornel to the net, who tipped a quick shot past Vanecek for the late lead.
The Chocolate and White, however, showed resiliency in the final minute, and Simpson found the equalizer in the dying seconds. Simpson stormed up ice in the final seconds and cut into the slot area. After fanning on his initial shot, his second attempt stunned Ullmark and sent 8,869 fans into a frenzy at Giant Center.
Three-on-three sudden-death overtime became a requirement, and it set the stage for Whitney's first goal as a Hershey Bear in dramatic fashion. At 1:32 of the sudden-death, Ullmark squeezed a shot from Barber, but the puck squirted loose on the blue paint. Whitney won the race to the puck and slammed it into the empty net to complete the thrilling comeback. Whitney, just two days removed from being acquired from Hartford, finished the night with three points, as did his new linemate Barber.
The win for Hershey improved their record to 19-25-3-4. Rochester's losing steak extended to five games, sliding their record to 25-13-7-5.